For a while now, I’ve entertained myself by saying “Hey Booboo” instead of “Hey Google” to wake up my Google Home speakers. Now researchers from Ruhr-Universität Bochum and the Bochum Max Planck Institute have uncovered more than a thousand other words and phrases that can unintentionally trigger Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa, Apple’s Siri, and other voice assistants:
- Instead of “Hey Google” or “OK Google,” for instance, try saying “OK cool,” “OK, who is reading,” or “cocaine noodles.”
- Instead of “Alexa,” try “A letter,” “election,” or “unacceptable.”
- If you’ve changed your Alexa speaker’s default wake word, you can try “And the zone” instead of “Amazon,” “tobacco” instead of “Echo,” or “Peter” instead of “Computer.”
- Instead of “Hey Siri,” try “a city” or “Hey Jerry.”
Silly as all this seems, accidental triggers can compromise your privacy. Amazon automatically keeps a record of your Alexa voice recordings, Google keeps a transcript of your Assistant queries and can keep recordings if you allow it, and Siri retains audio if you opt in. As a result, these voice assistants can capture private moments if they hear something that falls within their acceptable margin of error for a wake phrase.
It could be a long time until voice assistants can perfectly tune out anything that sounds like “Alexa,” “Hey Google,” or “Hey Siri.” But in the meantime, you might as well have a little fun with it.